ABB Completes Upgrade of First Major HVDC Link in U.S. Transmission History

June 24, 2016
Celilo converter station upgrade to improve power reliability for millions of West Coast residents

ABB has completed the upgrade of the Celilo HVDC converter station in Oregon and handed it over to U.S. utility Bonneville Power Administration, a power marketing agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.

For nearly 50 years, this station has played a key role in integrating stable renewable hydro power into the grid and transmitting electricity between the Pacific Northwest and southern California. Pacific Intertie was the first major HVDC link in U.S. transmission history, originally commissioned by ABB in 1970. This is the fourth upgrade of the Celilo station entrusted to ABB, and includes the world-leading MACH HVDC control and protection system. In addition to modernizing the converter station, its capacity has also been increased from 3,100 up to 3,800 megawatts.

The Celilo converter, located near the Columbia River, is the northern station of the Pacific DC Intertie, a 1,360-kilometer HVDC link that connects to the Sylmar converter station in Los Angeles. It transmits electricity from the Pacific Northwest to as many as three million households in the greater Los Angeles area. During winter, the north consumes significant quantities of power for heating while the south requires less, but in summer demand is reversed with more power needed in the south for cooling. The Pacific Intertie HVDC link enables the balance of supply with demand between these regions.

Key components of the station upgrade include valves, controls and transformers as well as switchgear and cooling equipment. The station is managed by ABB’s MACH system, the most advanced HVDC control and protection solution on the market. Celilo will be the first installation in the world to benefit from the latest generation of this system, providing an unprecedented level of control and helping to secure power supplies.

“The Pacific Intertie was the first major HVDC link to be installed in the US and has been providing power to millions in the U.S. for nearly five decades, and we are delighted to return to this pioneering project,” said Patrick Fragman, Managing Director of ABB’s Grid Systems business unit, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. “ABB is a global leader in HVDC and this upgrade emphasizes our commitment to service and lifetime support, a key element of our Next Level Strategy.”

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